Kilis is a city in south-central Turkey on the border with Syria and capital of Kilis Province. It is generally associated with the city of Kilisi, noted in Assyrian texts.
The Öncüpınar Syrian border crossing is 5 km (3 mi) to the south and the large city of Gaziantep is 60 km (37 mi) to the north. Indeed until 1996 Kilis was a district of Gaziantep, being made into a province by Tansu Çiller following an open vote-winning gambit in the 1995 general election.
Kilis is a small town with a rural feel to it, the traffic consisting mainly of young men on mopeds. The population of the town was 20,000 in 1927, 45,000 in 1970, 60,000 in 1980 and 85,000 in 1990. It then fell in the 1990s to 70,000 by 2000.
Being a border town Kilis has long had a reputation for smuggling and drug traffiking and although this has apparently been reduced, even today cigarettes, spirits and cheap electrical items can be bought for cash at low prices. The local cuisine is a mixture of Turkish and Arabic dishes, the local kebab is renowned, and also the breads, baklava and stuffed vegetables.
Places of interest
Sights in the town include a number of Ottoman Empire period mosques and stone houses with courtyards and elaborate carved wooden fittings.